Bette Midler And The All-Girl Groups She Covered On Latest Album
Mark it down.
On May 8, 2015, Bette Midler tours for the first time in more than a decade. That night, as well as the next, Midler will be at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida. After stops in 20 North American cities, her trek concludes June 25 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Fans should also look for the 69-year-old singer in Las Vegas, Boston, and Chicago.
Midler is hitting the road to support her 14th studio album, and 25th overall, It’s The Girls! For this opus, Midler covered songs that were originally made famous by all-girl groups—everyone from The Andrew Sisters to The Supremes to TLC. "Each one of [the songs] meant something to me, for some reason," the singer explains.
Below, Clickitticket looks at each of the groups that inspired Midler. Obviously, this estrogen-rich collection of music is very important to the legendary singer. What’s not so obvious, and what some of her younger fans may not realize, is the all-girl groups Midler tapped are also important figures in the annals of popular music. Midler introduced (or re-introduced) her fans to their music. Now, Clickitticket introduces you to the all-girl groups behind the music.
Martha and the Vandellas
Midler covered their version of "Come and Get These Memories"
“Come and Get These Memories,” written by Holland–Dozier–Holland, was Martha and the Vandellas first big hit. Their other biggies are “(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave,” “Nowhere to Run,” and “Jimmy Mack.” Of course, their signature song is "Dancing in the Street." The band’s most famous lineup consisted of Martha Reeves, Rosalind Ashford, and Annette Beard.
The Andrews Sisters
Midler covered their version of "Bei Mir Bist du Schön"
Midler recorded "Bei Mir Bist du Schön," which is Yiddish for “To Me You’re Beautiful,” because her parents sang the song to her as a child. LaVerne, Maxine, and Patricia were actual sisters and one of the most important all-female groups of the first half of the 20th century. Their seminal hit was "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," a song Midler recorded in 1972 for her debut album The Divine Miss M.
The Boswell Sisters
Midler covered their version of “It’s the Girl”
The Boswell Sisters were the blueprint for The Andrew Sisters as well as several other female vocal groups of the 1930s and 1940s. Actual sisters, and led by the middle one Connee, the trio innovated vocal jazz and inspired generations of female singers. In 1934, they recorded a song called “Rock and Roll” but it was their “Shout, Sister, Shout” that foreshadowed the genre. “It’s the Girl” is the first record Midler ever owned.
Midler covered their version of "One Fine Day"
Hailing from the Bronx, The Chiffons were one of the biggest all-girl vocal groups of the 1960s. They are better known, however, for suing George Harrison for copyright infringement over his recording of “My Sweet Lord” (1970). The Chiffons claimed (and a judge eventually agreed) that Harrison’s song sounded too much like their “He’s So Fine.” “One Fine Day” was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin.
Midler covered their version of "Mr. Sandman"
The Chordettes formed in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and found success in the 1950s. Their biggest hit is the song Midler covered for It’s The Girl!, “Mr. Sandman.” The quartet rose to prominence singing a combination of close harmony and traditional pop. Here’s another piece of trivia: The Chordettes appeared on the first nationally broadcasted episode of American Bandstand.
Midler covered their version of "He's Sure the Boy I Love"
The Crystals were an all-girl group produced by Phil Spector that found success with three different lead vocalists: Barbara Alston, Darlene Love, and Dolores “La La” Brooks—although the middle incarnation (the one with Darlene Love) was actually The Blossoms. Besides the song Midler recorded, The Crystals also scored big with “Uptown,” “He’s a Rebel,” and “Then He Kissed Me.” Their most famous song is 1963’s “Da Doo Ron Ron.”
The DeCastro Sisters
Midler covered their version of “Teach Me Tonight”
The DeCastro Sisters are one of Livia Soprano’s favorite music groups. The “Latin Andrew Sisters’” biggest hit is “Teach Me Tonight,” a song penned by Gene De Paul and Sammy Cahn. In 1955, the siblings took their rendition of “Teach Me Tonight” all the way to number two. Peggy, Cherie, and Babette DeCastro were raised in Havana, Cuba.
Midler covered their version of “Tell Him”
The Exciters are actually NOT an all-girl group. They began as one in 1961 but added Herb Rooney in 1962. Don’t worry, I won’t hold it against them or Bette Midler. The Exciters’ only Top 40 hit was “Tell Him” (1962). The song was written by the great Bert Berns. The Exciters’ version of “Tell Him” inspired Dusty Springfield to ditch her country and folk band and record rhythm & blues-infused pop.
Midler covered their versions of "Too Many Fish in the Sea" and "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game" (on the Target deluxe edition)
The Marvelettes were Motown’s second big act (after The Miracles) and the label’s first successful all-girl vocal group. Their debut single was “Please Mr. Postman” (a song later covered by The Beatles). It was the first Motown song to reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100. The band’s other top ten hits are “Playboy” and “Don’t Mess with Bill.” A little trivia for you: Marvin Gaye played drums on many of the Marvelettes’ recordings.
Midler covered their version of “Be My Baby”
According to Midler, she had to be dragged into the “vocal booth” to sing The Ronettes’ classic, “Be My Baby.” She didn’t think she could top Ronnie Spector (no one can). Her producer kindly reminded her that fans love her voice and the way she interprets a song. The Ronettes scored five Top 40 hits and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. They worked with Phil Spector and toured with The Beatles.
Midler covered their version of "Give Him a Great Big Kiss"
Thanks to hits like "Leader of the Pack," "Remember (Walkin' in the Sand)," and touring with The Rolling Stones, The Shangri-Las were able to cultivate a “tough girl” persona. This image was in stark contrast to the image of other all-girl vocal groups of the era (the 1960s). When the band first hit it big, the foursome were still in high school. “Give Him a Great Big Kiss” was the third of The Shangri-Las’ six Top 40 hits.
Midler covered their versions of "Baby It’s You”
The Shirelles are widely regarded as progenitors of the all-girl vocal group genre. They are the first African American all-girl group to top the Billboard Hot 100 (“Will You Love Me Tomorrow”) and one of the first to do so regardless of race. The Shirelles are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Rolling Stone magazine named "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "Tonight's the Night" as two of the greatest songs of all-time.
Midler covered their version of "You Can't Hurry Love"
They weren’t the first or the last, but they are the best. The Supremes are The Beatles of all-girl groups. Led by Diana Ross, the Motown trio are responsible for 12 number one singles—“You Can’t Hurry Love” being one of them. You can’t release an album like It’s The Girls! and not include America’s most successful vocal group.
Midler covered their version of “Waterfalls”
Probably the most striking track on Midler’s album is TLC’s “Waterfalls.” Midler turns their immortal R&B ditty into a haunting torch song. Divine Miss M told reporters: “I fell in love with it the first time I heard it, and I could hear through the beat to what the story really was. It's a classic ballad." On TLC’s resume are 65 million albums sold, four number one singles, and five Grammy Awards. The pinnacle of their career is 1994’s CrazySexyCool.
Kate and Anna McGarrigle
Midler covered their versions of "(Talk to Me of) Mendocino"
Kate and Anna McGarrigle are the only Canadians on our list and the only all-girl group who wrote nearly all of their own material (Kate composed “(Talk to Me of) Mendocino”). You probably haven’t heard any of the sisters’ recordings but you probably heard their music. Their songs have been covered by a slew of artists like Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Judy Collins, and Billy Bragg. Kate is the mother of singers Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright. She died in January of 2010.
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